The following represent a random sampling of voices from those activists and organizers who participated in our research project. To see more, refresh this page. Use the tag cloud to the right to navigate by theme.
Taking back our communities
I think we need to recognize that we want to get to that point where we're really taking back...our community. It's not that I'm opposed to violent stuff, it's just that we need to do the groundwork so we can lay that out. That requires collective decisions, patience, and getting to that point is not something that just happens right away. [That’s] one [of the] thing[s] I can appreciate...about the Zapatistas, they went into the jungle in 1983 and didn't come out until 1994...and I think that's something that we need to think about.
I volunteered with an underground midwife....she still caught babies, still did the exact same job...but there was no funding for it, women still paid her out of pocket. So where did that take me? I guess that was a turning point in my politics because it really made me think not just about women's choices and how women conceptualize those choices and manifest them but how...the broader society manipulates women, or offers certain choices for women.
Winning right now
So, short term what would winning mean to me? I would like to see the Canada health act pass into legislation right now. I'd like to see [the former] NDP government pushed on a variety of different fronts from below to keep it to the minimum promises it made and I'd like to see the beginnings of building some kind of mass progressive movement here in Nova Scotia. That to me would be the short term win.
Leadership not dictatorship
Things can happen awful fast sometimes...and [when it does happen] I think that the Left needs to...be...there to try and pick up the pieces and give it some coordination and leadership. Because I do believe in leadership, I just don't believe in the form of leadership that dictates to everybody what should happen. We've never really had a democracy.
The end of the world?
I don't believe we're that close to the end of civilization as some people would have us believe in terms of an ecological crisis. I think here, where we're situated, it'll be a long time before we feel the worst effects of that. I don't think that's true everywhere and what that leads to remains to be seen I guess but I don't think here that's imminent, at least that's my impression….Maybe I am more confident that I'm going to see the end of the world in some sense than I actually am that I'm going to see the end of capitalism.
Winning without utopia
I really don't like utopian thinking because I really don't think if we were to beat back the forces of global capital that that would result in paradise on earth. I think there would still be a lot of challenge and struggle. But when I think about winning there would be a cap on how much any individual would be allowed to make, there would be a cap on how big any business [would be] allowed to be, there would be way more of a relationship between the [resource extraction and production processes] of any kind of industry….The people who live near that source, the people who extract that resource, the people who manufacture and do the labour producing that resource, and the whole shipping and distribution of that would be totally reformed to reflect sustainability and social justice, equality amongst workers.
Building solidarity, not conflict
I do believe that non-violent action is more effective as a strategy because the object is to build solidarity rather than conflict and I feel that that is ultimately what we're fighting for. Certainly I feel that non-violent action is more effective just by the very nature of what it is. It's less alienating to people who are largely ignorant of the issues that are being confronted. That it's less intimidating and therefore approachable and it's easier to communicate with people through it.
I think there's something to be said for keeping our internal struggles internal. Stephen Harper does that really well and that's not say again that we need to become authoritarian or hierarchical. It's just to say that if we're going to argue about whether we're libertarian or communist or something else we should not argue about that in the Chronicle Herald. We should not split our broader leftist movement apart publicly.
The limits of telling a better story
People on the left have this conceit that if only we explained things better to people then the scales would be lifted from their eyes and they would all realize that [the source of their problems is] really capitalism after all. That's not necessarily true….the [first] problem with [this focus on] framing is that it's simplistic….and the world isn't simple. So we rankle at the idea of simplifying things for good reasons. The second reason is that it's not an equal fight, it's not like we're both starting out from the same situation on the right and the left….they're in an open competition and….of course the right has power behind it.
Revolution and Indigenous struggles
I've found stories of Indigenous resistance in Canada pretty inspiring and I'd like to know more about that history actually and be more in touch with it. As far as when people say that there's not going to be a revolution in Canada and that Canada is one of the most stable countries in the world I think that's not true in a lot of communities and I wouldn't say that's true with Indigenous people.